Samsung Odyssey 15: Our First Take

Samsung's Odyssey 15 is a budget gaming laptop that can keep its cool

Samsung and gamers don’t have much of a history in North America. Though the company has produced a few gaming laptops over the years — like the Samsung Series 7 Gamer, which was quite good — they’ve come and gone from store shelves. Most gamers don’t think to consider Samsung when looking for hardware.

The new Samsung Odyssey 15 could make a better impression. The reason why is in the name. Odyssey is not just a laptop, but a new brand that the company is launching, starting with an affordable 15-inch gaming laptop.

Eye-catching, but we want it in white

Like most gaming laptops, the Samsung Odyssey 15 can grab your attention from across a room. And like most gaming laptops, it does so with bright, red lights. Yes, this laptop has opted for the traditional black-and-red color scheme so common in this arena. It’s a safe approach, and certainly not unattractive, but Samsung needs to do more if it wants to stand out.

The white model, teased during our press event, could help. Few laptops are sold with a white exterior, especially in the mainstream market. Going for a white shell would certainly attract interest, but Samsung says it’s only considering it as a possibility.

Colors aside, the Odyssey 15’s most notable feature lurks where you’ll never see it — the bottom of the laptop. There, Samsung uses what it called a “Dragonscale” cooling system. It consists of a large metal heatsink with a honeycomb-esque pattern, with active intakes underneath to pull cool air from your lap and push it out the back. Oh, and it looks cool — which makes it a shame it’s on the bottom, where most will never see it.

Otherwise, the Odyssey doesn’t journey far from traditional gaming laptop design. It’s thick at up to 1.1 inches, has a large keyboard and touchpad, and weighs about six pounds. It feels similar to the Acer Aspire VX 15, and a bit larger than Dell’s Inspiron 15 7000 Gaming.

Fast processor, but mediocre graphics

Samsung did not produce a full specification sheet for us, but said the Odyssey 15 will come with a Cseventh-generation ore i7 mobile quad, Nvidia GTX 1050 graphics, a 1080p display, and a 43 watt-hour battery.

That array of hardware seems unusual for an entry-level gaming laptop.

That array of hardware seems unusual for an entry-level gaming laptop. This is primarily because it chooses to use the Core i7 quad, rather than a Core i5. In our experience, the Core i5 mobile quad-core is the better choice for budget gaming, as the Core i7 is overkill.

We also think the battery is towards the small side. While users rarely buy gaming laptops for their endurance, it’s always good to have a laptop that can last awhile if needed. A 44 watt-hour battery paired with a Core i7 mobile quad and discrete graphics does not sound like a recipe for success. Most gaming laptops equip a battery in the 60 to 80 watt-hour range.

The GTX 1050 video card and 1080p display are a better match. A lot of laptops are now boasting 1440p or 4K displays, but many laptops lack the power to handle those resolutions in the latest games. A 1080p display is the best choice for an entry-level gaming laptop even if it doesn’t look as good in headlines. As for its quality, it’s always hard to judge on the show floor. We thought it looked good, but not notably better than its rivals.

Samsung’s affordable Odyssey 15 is only the first step

It’s good to see Samsung take gaming seriously, as its absence in the space is notable. With that said, the Odyssey 15 is not going to make anyone scream “take my money!”

Mostly, this is because it costs too much. The $1,199 price tag is good for a gaming laptop, but the specifications of the Odyssey 15 aren’t notably superior to the Acer Aspire VX 15, or Dell Inspiron Gaming 15 7000.

The pricing misfire seems mostly due to the choice of an Intel Core i7 processor for the base, rather than the Core i5. If Samsung went for a less powerful processor it might fit into a more appealing price. At $1,199, we think the Odyssey may find itself fighting opponents that offer better performance where it counts most — in gaming benchmarks.

Highs

  • Fast Core i7 quad-core processor
  • Efficient “Dragonscale” cooling

Lows

  • Only a GTX 1050 for $1,199
  • Small battery
  • Design doesn’t stand out
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